The Public Option Never Had a Chance

March 23rd, 2010 · 4 Comments

Hey, remember when President Obama got Chief Justice Roberts all chuffed with this State of the Union rebuke?

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

Well, Hopey Changey also did this:

More deeply, there are serious questions about the extent to which Obama, with the help of Rahm Emanuel, used a K Street strategy to pursue health care reform. The strategy seems to have been to make backroom deals to protect the interests of the likes of the drug industry and the for-profit hospital industry in exchange for campaign cash, even if this meant reversing campaign promises to include a public option to put competitive pressure on private insurance premiums, and to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices and Americans to buy cheaper drugs from Canada. The result is a health care bill that is generally unpopular with voters. Questions need to be asked, too, about the extent to which the White House is following a similar K Street strategy with Wall Street financiers when it comes to shaping financial reform and new regulations to rein in the banks who brought the economy to its knees.

In case there is some mystery about what Obama campaigned for:

My plan builds on and improves our current insurance system, which most Americans continue to rely upon, and creates a new public health plan for those currently without coverage. Under my plan, Americans will be able to choose to maintain their current coverage if they choose to. For those without health insurance I will establish a new public insurance program, and provide subsides to afford care for those who need them. My plan includes a mandate that all children have health care coverage and I will expand eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs to help ensure we cover all kids. My plan requires all employers to contribute towards health coverage for their employees or towards the cost of the public plan.

I hope the subsidies will be enough for my uninsured friends to afford plans through the much-ballyhooed health insurance exchanges. I hope federal regulations on those exchanges will be diligent and skeptical enough to ensure private insurers don’t find new, innovative ways to screw their customers.

But I also hope my fellow progressives/liberals/lefties/whatever-the-fuck-we-are are now alive to the fact that better-than-Bush is a seriously low bar to set for ourselves.

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Tags: obama · politics

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rojo // Mar 24, 2010 at 3:20 am

    “I hope the subsidies will be enough for my uninsured friends to afford plans through the much-ballyhooed health insurance exchanges.”

    Me too, doubt it, and expect they will shrink over time as part of “entitlement reform.”

    “I hope federal regulations on those exchanges will be diligent and skeptical enough to ensure private insurers don’t find new, innovative ways to screw their customers.”

    Ah, hahahahahahahahaha!

    “But I also hope my fellow progressives/liberals/lefties/whatever-the-fuck-we-are are now alive to the fact that better-than-Bush is a seriously low bar to set for ourselves.”

    As you know, I’ve been there for a while.

  • 2 Rojo // Mar 24, 2010 at 3:22 am

    That was rueful laughter by the way…

  • 3 Rojo // Mar 24, 2010 at 3:35 am

    Before I toodle off to bed, I’ll observe that Kucinich’s roll-over on this bill confirmed my cynicism regarding him as well.

    Frankly, I’ve come to the belief that whatever vestiges of bureaucratic democracy we once had have now been completely overturned in favor of corporate oligarchy.

    Pressure for “progressive,” never mind “radical,” change, can only come from outside now. Got to overturn the applecart and scare the elites for anything real to happen.

    Of course, ever thus.

  • 4 Kevin Moore // Mar 24, 2010 at 10:19 am

    You keep odd hours, sir – those time signatures make me tired looking at them.

    I join you in the rueful laughter. And I, too, have been there for a long time, even the lesser-than is often my only reason for choosing a national candidate. Of course, I wind up kicking myself. Then I wonder why I even bothered voting at all.

    The current “reform” is another “lesser-than” – or “better than,” so progressives keep telling themselves. It still falls far short of what is needed to address the health care needs of society as a whole.

    Good point on “entitlement reform.” Sounds kinder, gentler than “repeal.” Give it ten years.